When Marie Thérèse Manzoeur launched her radio show, it wasn’t just a first for her. Her show was also a first for thousands of people in Cameroon—it was the first time they’d heard their own language on the airwaves.
Marie Thérèse is Bagyeli, an Indigenous people living in the extreme south of Cameroon. Never before had there been a radio program in the Bagyeli language in the country.
“This radio is their radio,” said Marie Thérèse. “People used to mostly be French or Bantu on the radio. People would listen but couldn’t necessarily understand what was being said.”
The Bagyeli are among the most marginalized people in the world. Traditionally, their communities are located deep in Cameroon’s forests. They are often farmers, hunters, fishermen and women, and gatherers. But with increasing deforestation and land pressure, the Bagyeli are in danger of losing their land and their way of life.
Cuso International volunteer Emile Anet helped Marie Thérèse build the communications skills she needed to run her own broadcast. Together, they worked on interviewing skills, how to cover breaking news, and practiced using the various pieces of radio equipment as well as how to troubleshoot any problems.
Marie Thérèse’s show on Radio Communautaire Nkuli Makeli provides important information to a population that was unrepresented until now. She covers topics like education, rights, malaria prevention and women’s health.
Since Marie Thérèse launched her broadcast, school attendance has increased and people are more mindful of their health.
“I want children to go to school. I want people to know agriculture is important. I want them to know health is important. I want all the children and women to get the health services they need,” she said.
“I’m changing lives for the better,” she continued. “It gives me joy.”